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Tea cake with a cup of tea

Black Tea Cake with Lemon Frosting

This cake has the lightest of spiced flavours. The flavour comes entirely from black tea. The lemon frosting just takes it to another level. Make it as a whole unlayered cake or a tray bake, it's very versatile. Don't skip the tea syrup.
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Course Cake
Cuisine cake
Servings 12 serves


Black Tea Cake

  • 400 ml milk 1 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons
  • 10 each teabags I used proper strong Yorkshire
  • 250 gm butter, chopped room temperature 1 block
  • 50 ml oil, plain vegetable 21/2 tablespoons
  • 400 gm caster sugar 2 cups
  • 4 each eggs extra large 70 gm
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 490 gm flour, plain 3 1/2 cups
  • 3 tsp balking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Tea syrup

  • 6 each teabags, black
  • 50 gm caster sugar 2 tablespoons
  • 1 piece lemon zest
  • 125 ml boiling water 1/2 cup

Lemon curd

  • 200 gm lemon curd optional, store bought or homemade
  • 1 each lemon to decorate

Lemon Butter cream

  • 250 gm butter, unsalted room temperature
  • 400 gm icing sugar 3 cups
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest 2 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


To make the cake

  • Set the oven to 170C. Line and grease 2 x 25 cm cake tins. (10 in) You can also make this in one tin (the baking time will be longer)
  • Put the milk in a pot with the 10 teabags. Bring slowly up to just under boiling. Turn off imediatly and let steep until room tempertature
  • Beat the chopped butter, caster sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time.
  • Mix the flour, salt, baking powder and soda together well. Add a third of the flour to the cake mixture and mix until just combined.
  • Add the last two lots of flour intermitantly with the tea milk and the oil. Mix until only just combined
  • Divide the cake batter in half and put it into the cake tins. Bake the cake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the cake springs bake in the middle when touched
  • The batter in one tin will take up to 50 minutes. Test with a skewer or cake pick. The skewer should come out of the centre of the cake clean if it is cooked. Cool the cake completely before frosting

Tea Syrup

  • Put the 5 teabags into a bowl with the sugar and the lemon pice. Pour over boiling water and stir. Let this steep until cool

Lemon Buttercream

  • Beat the butter with the lemon zest and salt until light and white.
  • Gradually add the icing sugar. Add 1/2 the lemon juice and beat well. Add the remaining lemon juice

Putting the cake together

  • You will need to trim the tops of your cakes slightly so that they are flat. Put the first half of the cake on the bench at eye level. Run a sharp knife around the diameter just the edge cutting until you meet back where you started. Then cut through and take off the domed piece. repeat with the other cake. Put one half of the cake onto a plate.
  • Using a pastry brush, brush the tops and the sides of the tea cake with the tea syrup
  • Put 1/4 of the buttercream into a piping bag and pipe a line of buttercream in a ring around the edge of the cake. Fill the centre with lemon curd and put the top on. if you don't have lemon curd use extra buttercream. Just set aside 1/2 for the top.
  • Brush the top and sides of the second layer of cake Spread the top of the cake with a thin layer of buttercream and chill. This is the crumb coat. It will hold all those errant crumbs in place. Once chilled, spread another thin layer of buttercream onto the top of the cake. The other 1/2 of the buttercream will be to pipe rosettes on the top.
  • Fit the piping bag with a star nozzle (approx 13-14). Pipe rosettes around the top evenly
  • Decorate the top with some sliced lemons or some gold or lemon sanding sugar
  • The cake will last for 1-2 days out of the refrigerator. If you need to put it in the fridge to firm up, take it out 1 hour or so before serving


If you don't have lemon curd spread buttercream over the entire centre of the cake
Room temperature butter beats up more easily
Once you make the milk tea, after squeezing out the teabags you will have around 300 ml of liquid left.
If your eggs are very small it will affect the overall moisture of your batter. Make sure the batter is creamy and light. If it is fluffy and falls easily off a stirring spoon you are good to go
Keyword baking, cupcake, dessert, tea